Few could deny the ice-cold grand slam winning ways of Maria Sharapova during her heyday, but on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, she appeared a shadow of her best as Croat Donna Vekic routed the Russian 6-3 6-4.

The former Australian Open champion, who has reached the quarterfinal stage of a major only once since returning to the tour from a doping ban three years ago, struggled to keep the ball in court, posting 31 unforced errors to Vekic's 17.

The result sees the now-world no. 145 Sharapova on a three-match grand slam losing streak — the longest in her career.
Millman leads Australian charge

Known for his dogged demeanour, Australian journeyman John Millman did it tough against French up-and-comer Ugo Humbert in an exhausting four-set match on Court 3.

The world no. 48 weathered his opponent's southpaw game and their combined tendency to draw out rallies beyond 10 shots to win 7-6(3) 6-3 1-6 7-5.

With chants raining down from the rambunctious home crowd before play commenced, the tone was set early with a 23-shot rally pushing both players to all corners, before Humbert punctuated the exchange with a mid-court drop shot.



Trading service holds into the tiebreaker, Millman gained ascendancy off a Humbert double fault, and after running the 21-year-old ragged, utilised his opportunity to close the set out.

The 30-year-old Australian found the going easier in the second set, after succumbing to an early break.

Finding his range and punishing Humbert's weaker backhand, Millman rallied to recover the deficit to the approval of Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt before closing it out 6-3.

After a forgettable third set, which saw the Frenchman hit cleaner and more errors off the Millman racquet, the Australian steadied the ship in the fourth.

In the end, a pair of Humbert double faults gifted the entertaining encounter to the Australian.
Former British semifinalist exits at first hurdle

No. 12 seed Johanna Konta became the first big name to exit Melbourne Park on second day's play, going down to the plucky Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-2 in just over an hour.

Konta, who made the French Open semi-finals and the Wimbledon and US Open quarters last year, looked rusty off the back of a four-and-a-half month absence from the game, prompted by severe knee inflammation.

Australian Open: Sharapova knocked out, as Millman wins bruising encounter_1
Inset: A semifinalist in 2016, Johanna Konta looked a shadow of her best in her first-round loss to Ons Jabeur. Photo: Getty

And her less-fancied opponent took the initiative, combining a rock-solid serving performance with tricky shotmaking to eke four breaks throughout the match, courtesy of 19 winners.

Speaking post-match, the Brit said her worst-ever result at the first grand slam of the year was "unfortunate."

"[Consistency] is part of the sport and the way I play and it's something that'll come with time and matches. The main thing was to start playing again," Konta told reporters.
Looking forward – tonight's must-watch matches

Jennifer Brady (USA) vs Simona Halep [4] (ROU)

Tonight's first-up match on Margaret Court Arena sees 2018 Australian Open finalist Halep face red-hot Brady, who dispatched both Maria Sharapova and world no.1 Ash Barty, in the Australian's first outing in Brisbane.

The Romanian, reeling from a swift exit at the hands of brawny Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka, will need her counter-punching game on song against the American's trademark power.

Daniil Medvedev [4] (RUS) v Frances Tiafoe (USA)

In a match pinned by many as the pick of the men's first round, 23-year-old Medvedev will be endeavouring to kick off his 2020 in similar fashion to his remarkable 2019.

His year included six consecutive finals post-Wimbledon, which culminated in his thrilling five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the US Open decider.

First up is the American Tiafoe, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on the first day of the championships, and is desperately seeking his own breakout year. Many would remember the American from last year's quarterfinal run in Melbourne.